Monday, August 15, 2011

Missionaries and Me at NWMC

I recently attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference. I wish you had been there, heard what I heard, and saw what I saw, because I’m having a hard time putting the experience into words. Yet I feel I must try because what I learned there is changing my life. I’m not missionary material by any means and given my health issues, I will most likely never go on even a short-term mission trip – so why did I go to a “mission” conference? The short answer is that God was calling me to visit with Him there. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever “been away from home.” I’ve never gone on scouting trips or away to camp or on church youth trips. So this was a really big deal for me just from the aspect of stretching my shy, introverted personality beyond my comfort zone every minute for a week amongst hundreds of strangers. I admit that I had some trouble the first couple of days figuring out how to be me in that frenzy of activity with all those people around everywhere. But the Lord provided a few friends who prayed for me and helped me acclimate quickly.

For one week, I worshipped God morning and night and heard His Word proclaimed and expounded in light of His work in the mission fields of the world. I had the opportunity to hear and talk with past and present missionaries from all over the world and I participated in a Bible study on the book of Jonah (an Old Testament, rather-reluctant, missionary). It’s amazing how small the world becomes when you sit across the breakfast table from a person who was born and raised in another part of the country or the world and you pray together for God’s blessing on the meal and share stories of what Jesus has done in and through each other’s lives.

Being an introvert, I made sure to find time each day to walk by myself and be alone with God or sit with my writing, as I often do, to hear what He might have to say to me. It seemed that no matter where I went on campus, God’s Spirit was so present, He was almost tangible and His peace, at times, was intoxicating.

Now comes the hard part – God let me know in no uncertain terms how shallow my prayer life had become and then gave me a glimpse of how full and rich He intends it to be. He allowed me the privilege of praying one-on-one with a few special people at conference and God moved in me and I believe in them to bring them healing from old wounds and courage to face their future. There is nothing as exhilarating as when the Spirit leads me to share my heart with another, to lift up a brother or sister in prayer – to help them bring their burden to our Father in heaven. When the words that He gives me to speak releases their pain, their concerns, and their needs, and then I see His peace filling them – there are no words to express that kind of joy. I know now that God is calling me into prayer ministry – whatever that means – I don’t know yet.

I won’t be idle while I wait for the Lord to make it clear. Already, I’ve joined a Sunday morning prayer group at church, and along with many others I’ve made a commitment to 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world during this month of Ramadan. I’m reading and learning about spiritual warfare and intercessory and healing prayer and memorizing scripture. Most importantly, I am turning off the TV and radio more often, putting away worldly distractions, and I’m praying and I’m listening. These are my intentions and I pray the Lord blesses me with success as I face the uphill battle against my old “lazy” habits which are impossible for me to break by my own will and power.

Will I go back to the conference next year? YES! It’s already on the calendar. Maybe I’ll never put a foot on the mission field, but God’s Word tells me that my prayers are not useless and they do not go unheard. God is moving and working on the mission fields of the world and He has called me to support His missionaries in prayer. Last year I adopted a mission family to pray for (the children and grandchildren of very dear friends of mine) and I admit I’ve been doing a lousy job of it, but now God has engrained them in my heart as if they were my own family and I will be more diligent about bringing them to the Lord in prayer on a daily basis. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:2-3)

Now if you’ll excuse me – It’s time for God and me to have a conversation.

About the pictures:

Brittain Lake, Westminster College Campus (Site of New Wilmington Mission Conference) July 2011

2 comments:

Green Grandma said...

As always, it is a sheer joy to read your writing. God has given you a gift and I believe, during one of these special prayer times, He will reveal His plans for it. I'm guessing they are big plans :)

Common Household Mom said...

I am so glad you were able to attend this event.